Dear Riverbend Community,
I have now been at Riverbend for just over a month. What have I gleaned from this relatively short amount of time? First a little context.
I have been in education for close to thirty years. I have been through many incarnations during that time: teacher, tutor, coach, theater director, student, and eventually, administrator. The one commonality that crosses this span is that I have been in “traditional” schools.” For simplicity sake, I will define traditional as “non-Montessori.” Until November 6th, 2017, I had never truly experienced a Montessori-based educational setting.
I have begun to learn a few things about the Montessori philosophy. There are many misconceptions about what Montessori really means. I will confess, despite my research, I was not truly understanding of the depth of the Montessori tenets. But during my time at Riverbend and my initiation into the classrooms, one thing has become crystal clear to me — the misconceptions are just that.
An anecdotal conversation may be illustrative here. This past weekend I had a lengthy conversation with a colleague of mine from a past school who knew that I was running a school up in Massachusetts. She asked “How is your new school?” Well, let me tell you, she got an earful from me — a pleasant one of course!
My lens has been shaped by many years of teaching in traditional schools, which automatically makes me an outsider looking in. However, it also gives me the advantage of being able to look at the Montessori experience as a seasoned educator. It could have taken a lot of convincing to get me to truly appreciate the Montessori philosophy after decades of traditional pedagogy, but let me tell you that it has not.
Now back to Riverbend. During my early tenure I made a concerted effort to be in the classrooms so that I could begin to understand the culture that exists at the school. What I have experienced has been nothing short of impressive. It does not matter whether it is in the Children’s House, Lower El, Upper El, or Middle School. What I have witnessed has been transformative for me as an educator.
What do we want for our students? All schools tell you they are striving toward the same ends, but Riverbend delivers on these ends in a different way.
We want our students to be joyful, life-long learners who are creative, industrious, challenged by rigor, collaborative, and engaged in deep and meaningful ways. Last month I observed a Lower El classroom during work cycle. I witnessed all of the above that I had never seen in quite the same way in a traditional setting.
I look forward to sharing future glimpses of my experience at our great school.
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